Re: “Public consultations no alternative to leadership,” Jan. 25.
Bruce Carter made some valid criticisms of public consultation, or at least, ill-conceived and poorly executed consultations.
This is a baby and bathwater situation, however. The alternative to public engagement on policy matters has been called the “DAD” model — Decide, Advocate, Defend. This is more about winning an argument than making wise decisions. We can do better.
Indeed, we could hardly do worse than return to a governance model where democracy is essentially a vote once every few years. In most cities, turnout for municipal elections hovers around 30 per cent. Should we be relying on the wisdom of leaders chosen once every three years, many of whom may have been the choice of less than one in 10 citizens?
Frustration with consultation has led to many innovative and extraordinarily effective alternatives. Despite the fact that Victoria is populated by an exceptionally well-informed, highly-educated populace, our city has barely scratched the surface of trying to harness the wisdom of its citizens.
Taking the time to make the right choice has not gone out of fashion. What is outdated are consultative practices that do not deliver a return-on-participation. We know enough to try and maximize and capitalize on the beauty of our city. Why wouldn’t we try to maximize and capitalize on the wisdom of our citizenry?
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